Manchester City’s Rúben Dias has been voted the Football Writers’ Association’s men’s Footballer of the Year. The Portugal defender was a comfortable winner ahead of Tottenham’s Harry Kane and his City teammate Kevin De Bruyne.
Dias has enjoyed an outstanding first campaign at City since a club record £64.3m transfer from Benfica. He has helped Pep Guardiola’s squad win the Carabao Cup, regain the Premier League title and reach the Champions League final, in which they face Chelsea in Porto on 29 May.
Nine City players received votes from the FWA membership, accounting for more than 50% of the ballot. The last defender to collect the trophy, which has been presented since 1948, was Liverpool’s Steve Nicol in 1989.
Dias described the award as “a huge privilege” and paid tribute to his colleagues before focusing on what lies ahead. “I heard someone from the club say: ‘We live in the middle of the storm,’” he said. “Sometimes we don’t even have time to celebrate, to think too much about things, we just move on. We must not shut it off, we just let it go, because at the end of it all it is beautiful what is happening. But next year it will be a new challenge, a new season – and as a footballer you just need to be hungry every time.”
Dias is only the third player to win the FWA award in his first season in English football, following Jürgen Klinsmann, in 1995, and Gianfranco Zola (1997).